The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Trump incorrectly says 'the murder rate in our country is the highest it's been in 47 years'


[UPDATE: It looks like Trump's statement may have been based on the 2014 to 2015 murder rate increase, 10.8%, being the highest since 1967-68—but that's very different from the murder rate being the highest, given that the murder and nonnegligent manslaughter rate is actually about half of its 1980 and 1991 peaks.]

Tom Jackman at The Post has the video of President Trump's comments in front of a county sheriffs' group, but here's my transcription:

And yet the murder rate in our country is the highest it's been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? 47 years. I used to use that—I'd say that in a speech and everybody was surprised, because the press doesn't tell it like it is. Wasn't to their advantage to say that, but the murder rate is the highest it's been in, I guess, from 45 to 47 years.

Well, I'm not surprised that people are surprised by this, because it's not true. The murder-plus-nonnegligent-manslaughter rate (a pretty good proxy for the murder rate) has spiked in the past couple of years, but it's still much lower than its 1991 peak; it was 4.9 per 100,000 in 2015, and seemingly a bit higher this year, but that's down from a high of 10.2 per 100,000 in 1980, and 9.8 per 100,000 as recently as 1991. I know of no evidence whatsoever contradicting this, or supporting Trump's claim.